In a move that may signal the beginning of the End Times, Microsoft announced on Tuesday that the unthinkable is happening: it's adding native support for file compression formats 7z and rar. It's a seismic move we've literally been waiting decades for.
When I upgraded to Windows 11 last year, it wasn't the centered taskbar or the compressed right-click menu that annoyed me first: it was the built-in unzipping tool. This brand new operating system from one of the biggest companies in the world is cutting edge enough to be able to extract zip files—a compression format that debuted in 1989—but rar files, from 1993? Whoa ho ho, slow down there, tiger. Apparently 30 years and 12 distinct versions of Windows since then just wasn't enough time to build in support for that kind of advanced decompression.
And let's not even talk about 7z files. That 1999 upstart compression format, the domain of open source champion 7-Zip? Too young! Too unproven! Can't even rent a car yet.
So what if built-in Windows support for 7z probably could've killed off the ancient zip format by now? Microsoft's had more important priorities, like redesigning the right-click menu so that even if you have 7-Zip installed, it's a lot more annoying to use than Microsoft's built-in extractor (turns out the context menu was a close second on my list of Windows 11 annoyances).
But all that's about to be the old Windows 11. In the newest update to Windows 11, announced today at Microsoft's annual Build conference, there are a whole bunch of new AI features (I sleep) and "added native support for additional archive formats, including tar, 7-zip, rar, gz and many others using the libarchive open-source project" (real shit). "You now can get improved performance of archive functionality during compression on Windows," the developer blog states.
It's not the kind of glamorous feature that'll get CNBC anchors talking giddily about Microsoft's stock price, but by god it's what Windows needs: a no-nonsense addition to core functionality that makes the operating system easier and more pleasant to use. More like this, please.
The update will be rolling out to the Insider preview builds of Windows "later this week."